Why Most Seo Campaigns Fail - 9 Top Mistakes to Avoid

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Unfortunately, for many business owners, SEO is a mysterious skill they know some people possess and could be highly rewarding. However, they need to gain more knowledge on correctly judging the best people to work with.


For this reason, too often, you may put your money on the wrong horse and yield poor results and even negative returns.


So why do so many SEO campaigns fail, and many business owners draw the short end of the stick?


Here are the top mistakes.


Top SEO Mistakes


Mistake #1  - Not gauging experience correctly


Many people claim to know how to do SEO (or digital marketing, for that matter) simply because they have read about it or just started working on it. Digital marketing, as a subject, has a bad habit of seeming easy. It is too easy to fall into the idea once you start getting into the SEO theory that it is very straightforward to get good results. For this reason, many new marketers overestimate and oversell their abilities, often without bad intentions, since they are also under a false impression of their abilities.

Not Gauging SEO Experience Correctly


Of course, everyone must learn and gain experience, and this is how even the best SEOs started. However, you must gauge the expertise and capabilities of an SEO to decide for yourself if the level is good enough for you and that you are paying a fair price.


When it comes to SEO, the proof is in the pudding. Here are some things to ask your potential SEO marketing professional:


Results and case studies of past projects


The results speak for themselves. If an SEO can show you results for other websites that they have ranked, that is a great start. Ask about the difficulty levels of those keywords and the period it took to rank them. Ask also for an indication of the cost associated with those projects and compare them to the results obtained. Would you invest the same amount of money for similar results? Remember that these are some of the best projects a particular SEO professional has to show.

SEO Case Study





One great way to judge an SEO is by asking for references, especially if they are people you already know and can quickly speak to. If this is something that they can provide, then you can inquire about the results obtained for those clients. These are much better than testimonials since they are very quickly inflated.


Their results


How well does the company rank for their keywords? Reasonably enough, plenty of SEOs never bothered with their SEO, which does not imply that they could be better. However, if they do have good results for their sites, this is something that you can take as a good signal.


Success in affiliate marketing


Many good digital marketers run their sites and invest in their products. A great marketer can generate value for himself through his work. It is one thing being paid by someone else to do SEO, but it is an entirely different matter of putting our own money on the line and making a profit from the quality of your work. You are effectively eating food made from your recipes. If your SEO can show you good results here, that is a powerful indicator that they can walk the walk and talk the talk.


Mistake #2 - Not setting goals and expectations correctly


When you hold the wrong expectations or set bad goals, your campaign will fail, even if it succeeds. As mentioned in the measurement section above, it is imperative to measure the right thing to determine whether your efforts are bearing fruit or not. In the same way, the campaign’s goal needs to be correctly set, in line with your business strategy, to be able to hit the correct targets and know that you did.

Setting Smart Goals


Testing an Idea


If you are still testing an idea, then your goal needs to be generating enough traffic to be able to run your experiment. You would not necessarily need big budgets, and you do not need to conquer the market. You can cover only some of the range of keywords and over-invest at an early stage. All you need to do here is use a small budget to generate enough traffic that would allow you to determine whether your product or model will work. Consider using PPC in this scenario to do your experimentation in less time. In this example, therefore, your target should be to generate your traffic at a low cost, more than traffic volume.


Increasing traffic to a product or service page that already sells


Suppose you have a product that already sells. In that case, the goal is to maximise traffic or diversify your product offering by attracting similar audiences or ranking for new keywords to sell other products. In this scenario, ranking well for top keywords and generating significant traffic volumes is a worthy goal, even more than developing traffic at meagre costs, since you know your traffic will give you a good return on your investment.


Targeting High-Value Customers


Another scenario might be if your company want to target a specific set of customers that generate a high value for your business. Your campaign’s success then would not be the overall cost of generating traffic or the traffic volume but the ability to rank for specific keywords and achieve the most significant portion possible of this traffic within your market.


It is imperative that your SEO professional can understand where you are in your business journey and advise on the best strategy for you to reach your goals. SEO is strategic and involves much more than writing content and building backlinks.

Mistake #3 - Not setting a realistic timeline


Not all SEO campaigns take the same time, resources, and effort and not all will generate the same results. Some campaigns are not very competitive and require little time and money. Others are highly competitive, promise tremendous results but need time to be achieved, and the client needs to be ready to dedicate the right amount of resources before any critical mass can be achieved.

realistic timeline


One major problem many campaigns need is more clarity over what resources will be required and for how long. As a client, you need to be able to assess not just whether the cost of the campaign will allow you to make your desired returns but also whether you afford to stay in the game long enough to see those results.


As a client, you may also become frustrated and disheartened if the results take longer than expected. Therefore, realistically setting expectations is critical to go into your SEO campaign with the right mindset and remain consistent long enough to reach your goals.


An experienced SEO company or professional will be able to determine market competitiveness accurately, understand where you are starting from and provide an accurate enough estimation of time and resources, as well as projected results, should the campaign reach its desired stage.


Mistake #4 - Not dedicating the required resources.


Following the previous point, it is essential to determine what resources are needed to get you to where you want to be and dedicate the necessary resources. SEO is an investment and should be treated as such. While it is important to be cost-effective and use your money smartly to get the best results with your budget, you should only cut a few corners or try to avoid making the required investment.

dedicating enough resources

SEO can be a very cheap source of high-quality traffic, but it still requires time, expertise, work, backlinks, and other resources, all of which cost money.  If the SEO company and the client disagree on the proper budget and timeline, the campaigns will run dry early.


The ideal approach would be to start generating sales as quickly as possible by attacking low-hanging fruit and then using this revenue for further investment in the SEO campaign.

Mistake #5 - Not testing the waters properly.


Sometimes things look great on paper but are less attractive in real life. It is good to test the waters when entering a new market, launching a new product or idea, or simply starting with SEO.


The truth is that before you start ranking and getting traffic from a set of keywords, you need to know how well they convert and what returns they can bring you. For this reason, it is typically a good idea to test the value of your keywords before investing heavily in them.

testing the water


This is especially true for keywords that require significant investment; However, if this is the case, there must be much competition, and when there is competition, there is usually value. It is good, however, to determine whether these keywords are profitable for you and your business model.


You can test keywords more “cheaply” by using PPC or targeting longer-tail keywords that are usually easier to rank for.

Mistake #6 - Targeting the wrong keywords


Targeting the right keywords is another crucial thing. An SEO campaign may only succeed if it targets the achievable keywords that can convert visitors into customers and generate revenue.


Good keywords should have significant traffic volumes, achievable difficulty levels and good “keyword-intent”, meaning the probable intention of the user typing that search term relates closely to what you are trying to sell.

wrong keywords


There are three common mistakes when selecting keywords:


  1. Wrong research and strategy


This is when the initial stage of the SEO campaign, the keywords research phase needs to be done better, and critical opportunities are missed. Options can be bypassed by failing to find keywords that could have been very valuable to your business or by failing to find subsets of them that you can afford to target.


  1. Targeting a single phrase in particular


Many beginners focus on one specific keyword or a small set of keywords because they have significant volumes. This is a big mistake because there are generally large sets of keywords relating to any topic, each of which has its search volume. Collectively, this set of related keywords typically adds up to significant numbers. SEO tools may only sometimes show this picture, and it is up to the SEO professional to use the right tools and uncover this data.


Main volume keywords are usually also less valuable in terms of purchasing intent, simply because they are generic in nature (think “web design” as opposed to “web design freelancers in Malta”) and therefore are used more by people looking for information and not looking to make a buying decision.


  1. Starting from difficult keywords (out of your league)


Based on available resources and the difficulty levels of different keywords, you should start with more accessible keywords to rank for and then use the revenue derived from this traffic to attack the bigger, harder ones. If this is not planned well, you may run out of budget before hitting critical mass and making money out of your campaign.


Mistake #7 - Doing SEO when this is not suitable for you.


There have been cases where we told a client that there are better options than SEO. This is not a very common event, but it does happen occasionally.

seo not good for you


Some niches have shallow traffic volumes and, strangely enough, great difficulty. Considering that you can only get a portion of the available searches, and then from that portion, you can only convert another percentage of that, when you start with small numbers, it is tough to generate enough sales. In cases like these, paid advertising or outreach could be a much better method for lead generation than SEO.


Sometimes SEO is not the right approach for you, and you need a marketing advisor who is honest enough to guide you in the best direction.


Mistake #8 - Doing SEO on a bad site


A common saying says, “you cannot make a pig fly, “ which relates very well to SEO. No matter how many backlinks you build and how much content you write, if your site is technically unsound and does not follow good technical and on-page practices, then your content will not be found, or Google will not rank it.

flying pig

The base of the SEO pyramid is technical SEO. Especially for more complex sites like e-commerce, this is a requirement you cannot do without; otherwise, you will be wasting money.


When SEO is done without paying enough attention to the technical aspects of a site, the results are never what they can be.


Mistake #9 - Not converting your traffic.


Finally, the traffic generated through your campaign, with your hard-earned cash, needs to be converted. Many SEO campaigns manage to drive traffic but fail to see conversion issues, and therefore, this traffic never materialises into sales and revenue. The client, therefore, fails to see the return and starts seeing the SEO campaign as a money trap, leading him to abandon the campaign and look for other options. 

Converting SEO Traffic

Although the scope of an SEO campaign is primarily to drive targeted traffic to your site, the conversion part needs to be considered, either through the same company or another service provider. The correct tracking needs to be done on the site to measure what is happening with the traffic it is getting and to be able to spot problems that might be hindering sales.


Through intelligent, strategic improvements, sales can be increased on the site, and the SEO traffic can bring in more and more returns. This leaves more resources available to the client, part of which can be dedicated to further growth.

About The Author - Marija G. Demanuele

About the Author

Marija G. Demanuele

Marija G. Demanuele is an experienced SEO and PPC consultant based in Malta, EU. Marija focuses on digital strategy, content, audits, local SEO, technical SEO, PPC and just generally helping businesses dominate search and social. Marija is the managing director of the Malta SEO and Web-Development company WebSuccess Malta Ltd which helps business increase their online client base without breaking the bank.

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